Cary, NC – Tom Long went from fifth to a podium third-place run at VIRginia International Raceway in Taggart Autosport’s one-off debut in the Maserati Trofeo. However, Long’s podium run was the bright spot in an otherwise challenging weekend for the team and driver Jim Taggart, who usually races a Porsche GT3R in the Pirelli World Challenge.
Carrying sponsorship from Local Motors and Rally Fighter, the team entered a spec Maserati in the all-Maserati series at VIR, run by the Maserati factory. The format called for two sprint races – one for each driver – and an endurance race where they would each share the car.
While Long went from fifth to third, he could have feasibly done better, but a broken hood pin created aerodynamic problems with an actively flopping hood.
Later that day, into the evening, Taggart started the second race at 7:30pm local time in 12th position after a mediocre qualifying session. A good start, and consistently fast race laps let him move through the field up to fifth place with only a lap to go, running laps times in the low 1:56’s around the 17-turn circuit.
Then misfortune struck. With one lap remaining the car suffered a mechanical failure leaving him coasting in the dark. It wasn’t long until he was rear-ended, a huge hit on the Maserati that left the car in pieces while Taggart was just fine.
“It was definitely the most fun I’ve had while not finishing a race and being involved in a wreck. Having qualified poorly, but moving up through the field felt great. It started to get very dark, and my track knowledge helped a ton. I had just passed Mario Cordoni down the back straight to move into fifth place. Coming onto the front straight, the paddle shifters failed, putting the car in neutral and leaving me coasting. Cordoni hit me from behind and took us both out of the race. Darkness definitely played a factor,” said Taggart.
A new backup car was prepared by Maserati for Sunday’s endurance race, with Taggart starting the race by doing the opening stint. However, with the rush to prepare the car, the Maserati differential suffered a failure, leaving the rear wheels spinning throughout the race. The Taggart duo limped the car home in tenth.
“The Enduro was very frustrating. I thought Tom and I had the speed to win that one. On the first lap however, it was evident something was wrong with the rear end of the Maserati: Rear lockups would occur under braking and would have significant wheel spin coming out of corners. Tom got in and did a great job driving the handicapped car home, picking up several positions” added Taggart.
Overall, a podium for Long and added trophy for best American driver highlighted the team’s one-off Maserati Trofeo appearance in 2014. Taggart’s group was looking for better results as both drivers have thousands of laps around VIR, and considered it a home field advantage.
A new primary sponsor was welcomed in Local Motors and Rally Fighter (check them out here), leading a few media outlets to believe a Rally Fighter was entered in the race that happened to be powered by a Maserati engine – far from the case.
“Big thanks go to the Local Motors team in Arizona who helped make this happen. Along with dozens of innovative products produced, the Rally Fighter is one of a kind in its class,” added Taggart.